Basic Education Department says general education certificate is NOT A SCHOOL LEAVING CERTIFICATE

DBEThe Department of Basic Education has noted with concern, misleading media reports and social media posts claiming that learners could leave school in grade 9. That is further from the truth.

It seems the reports emanate from a misinterpretation of what Minister, Mrs Angie Motshekga said yesterday, 26 September at the SADTU National Congress at Nasrec. As a result the message communicated by media reports is unfortunately causing confusion as it is not a true reflection of what the Minister meant in her speech.

This is all the Minister said yesterday about this matter in her speech:

The Field Trial for the General Education Certificate (GEC) at the end of Grade 9 is scheduled for completion at the end of July 2020. A draft framework for the GEC has been developed. Assessment and examination modalities for the GEC are being investigated and have been presented at the HEDCOM meeting. The Technical Occupational subjects have been packaged and submitted to Umalusi for approval.”

The GEC certificate is predicated on the 3-Stream Model which has the academic pathway, the technical vocational pathway and the technical/occupational pathway.

The plan aims to send more learners into technical education. Under the technical vocational stream, there was a target of 10 000 artisans per year. The Department has also introduced new subjects - technical mathematics and technical science - which could be referred to as applied mathematics and applied science. These were relevant in supporting areas of specialization and schools that offer these subject were currently being unveiled in different parts of the country with the majority of them presently launched in Gauteng.

With regard to the strategic direction, the DBE was responding to international protocols and obligations of which South Africa was part, and the Sustainable Development Goal 4 was important in this regard.

The public discussion on the GEC certificate is not new as it took place earlier this year when it was first raised in January.

President Cyril Ramaphosa mentioned the GEC in his speech at:

  • Basic Education Lekgotla on 21 January 2019, (Birchwood)
  • State of the Nation Address on 14 February 2019 (Parliament) and
  • The Minister’s in her Budget Vote Speech, 17 June 2019 (Parliament)

In all three speeches, what was communicated was that General Education Certificate GEC would facilitate the pathways between schools and colleges at a level below Grade 12. At the time, the President said the following: “I am glad that this approach, an idea put forward as far back as 1995 in one our earliest education white papers, appears to be on the policy agenda again.”

Apart from facilitating the transition from school to college, a GEC would address the current problem of hundreds of thousands of young people leaving education completely each year with no national qualification with which to navigate the labour market.

Why the General Education Certificate

The purpose of awarding a General Education Certificate (GEC) is to equip learners with the values, knowledge and skills that will enable or enhance meaningful participation in society, contribute towards developing sustainable communities, provide a basis for learning in further education and training, and establish a firm foundation for skills develop that will prepare learns for the workplace (SAQA: 2001).

The GEC (Schools) at the end of Grade 9 acknowledges a broad foundation of knowledge and skills as a basis for further learning and study, which could happen in a range of further education institutions. Offering a GEC is not an indication of the exit of learners from a learning pathway in schools but provides better decision-making for and access to further learning after Grade 9.

The broad social goal of compulsory basic education offered by schools is a constitutional right and lays the foundation for the development of learners who are confident, independent, literate, numerate and multi-skilled, compassionate, environmentally respectful and able to participate in society as critical and active citizens, as well as ensuring the achievement of specific knowledge, skills, and values that can be gained through the learning of languages, mathematics, natural and social sciences, arts and culture, life orientation, economic and management sciences, and technology.

In the case of schooling, the GEC would be an NQF registered qualification to be awarded at the end of the GET band (i.e. Grade 9) and recognises that:

  • Learners have acquired a structured set of competencies that are built up over the 10 years of compulsory schooling.
  • Learners who may want to access further learning can be assisted in the selection and guidance of subjects from Grade 9 level already.
  • The GEC can be diagnostic and used to inform learners of the possible pathways they may want to access.
  • Learning pathways from the GEC General and GEC Occupational can be mapped out programmatically by institutions offering FET programmes so that learner access is facilitated.
  • More importantly, as learners’ circumstances change and influence their participation in FET programmes, so the access to various learning pathways can match those circumstances and prioritise how they access learning versus exiting programmes. This means that learners continue learning even if the programme or institution where they learn further changes

Media Enquiries:   Elijah Mhlanga – 083 580 8275   Head of Communication

                                Hope Mokgathle – 079 817 0427 Ministerial Spokesperson